Tuesday, March 13, 2007

5 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About Me

Aaarggh! I've been blog-tagged, by Brian Sibley.

The aim of the game, apparently, is to post an entry 5 Things You Don't Know About Me and then 'tag' five other bloggers who have to do the same!

My '5 things' are posted below, but I still need to publish the details of the five bloggers I've decided to pass the tag baton on to. I'm struggling trying to find 5 people who haven't already played the game, but stay tuned for details over the next few days.

Luckily the first person I've tagged has responded in time for this blog entry. Richard Brunton runs the superb Filmstalker site. Richard's blog is my no.1 resource for film news, and it celebrated its first birthday just last week. If you haven't checked it out already, please go have a look and join in the conversation.

But now here are MY 5 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About Me

1. Pop manager/celebrity Tom Watkins (Pet Shop Boys, Bros) once phoned me to thank me for saving the career of one of his bands

The band were called 2wo Third3, but in a review of one of their dreadful records that I'd written for the American Dance Music Authority magazine I'd rather unkindly referred to them as 2wo Turd3! Watkins wasn't best pleased, apparently feeling nobody had the right to criticise until they'd done a better job themselves. He had a bet with his main producers, who I'd already done a 'trial' mix with for another act, that I couldn't produce anything better than had already been produced for the band. So I was paid £500 to spend a day in the studios with his producers putting together a dance remix of their next planned single. The record label, Sony, liked it so much they said 'That's the next single! Edit that verson down for the radio mix and 7 inch'. The band got their first (and only!) Top 30 hit and a 'Top of the Pops' appearance out of it. And I got a grateful phone call from the band's manager when the chart position was announced. Result! So the next time you're thinking 'That prat Smith hasn't got a clue when it comes to reviewing things' just think on't!

2. I once found myself on the wrong end of several loaded guns in Kuwait.

If you're going to lay a flour trail for The Hash House Harriers ('the drinking man's running club', or is it 'the running man's drinking club'? I forget!) DON'T let the numpty from the British Embassy choose the route. The idiot will likely plot a line that goes all the way round and through a police station car park. Four of us had just finished laying the trail when out of nowhere came the sound of screeching tyres. Suddenly there were Army landrovers and Police vans all around us, and uniformed men shouting and screaming at us in Arabic with guns pointed at our heads. Luckily one of our party spoke Arabic. But it was a long wait at the station before the forensics laboratory confirmed that the white powder we'd been seen laying down WASN'T explosive!

3. I had my personal web site shut down by Christopher Lee

Or his son-in-law 'representative' - I never did find out who really was at the bottom of it all. It all started with my reporting some remarks that Sir Ian McKellen had made at a public event I'd bought tickets for, which Lee's camp took great exception to. I learnt a very important lesson: NEVER meddle in the affairs of wizards!

4. I appeared on BBC2 doing an impression of Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'

BBC2's 'The Sunday Show' tagged along with a group of us that were on a Bungee Club adrenaline weekend trip to France. As the coach struggled up the French alps to our hotel destination the producer from the BBC thought it would be a good idea to have us all disembark and do quick impressions of Ms Andrews with the French Alps in the background. Foolishly we agreed, and felt very silly indeed. I felt even sillier when the resulting footage was shown on the telly! I made myself so dizzy I was spinning like a top, and tripping up all over the place. Needless to say, despite the accompanying music it didn't look like a 'Sound of Music' re-enactment so much as a drunk staggering around (which was probably the producer's intention all along)!

5. In a past life I had some involvement with Simon Cowell

He was an A&R man for RCA Records at the time. I didn't like him then, and don't like him now. Three words summarise the man and his 'musical talent': Robson and Jerome. They were signed by Cowell because they sang a cover version of 'Unchained Melody' on ITV drama 'Soldier Soldier', which people really wanted to buy, at least if the words of the Woolworths' managers who phoned Cowell the morning after transmission could be believed. Cowell made sure session singers were used on the records instead of the actors themselves, leaving the poor actors whose voices had attracted all the attention in the first place having to mime badly to someone else's vocals on 'Top of the Pops'. Oh the stories I could tell - the music industry makes Hollywood look like a paragon of virtue, by way of comparison! Cowell's a multi-millionaire now of course, having taken the 'Pop Idol' show he was hired for as a presenter, copied it lock, stock and barrel and then launched it as his own show 'X-Factor'. The man has gone from being a pretty poor A&R manager whose only talent was for signing boy bands to do bad karaoke cover versions of hits from the past to being a major 'celebrity' in his own right. Sometimes I think the world has gone totally, utterly, completely mad!

1 comment:

Brian Sibley said...

Wow! Not just little known facts but lessons in history and morality of the entertainment industry!

Funny both of us have confessed to Julie Andrews/Christopher Lee secrets!

What was that about websites being shut-d------------